I recently wrote a piece of advice to a bullied postdoc that made me sad.
Abbreviated, original here,
"It is unlikely you can fight this culture, and academic settings have practically no good ways to address bullying of this nature. If you find what seems to be one, look for evidence that it has worked for past students. Recently. Your best strategy? Leave. Keep your head down, and start planning your exit now."
I personally have seen no post PhD success stories that include bullies being stood up to and punished by the system, AND the individuals bullied subsuquently moving forward in their academic careers. I facilitated a conversation with a dozen colleges last night which kept that total. Zero. We all work with different highly ranked R1 universities in the northeast. Between us, we have worked within over 30 US universities. We agreed that bullies inhabit different roles in academia than in industry and government settings. We also agreed that the topic of bullies is more taboo in post-doctoral academic settings than in upper echelon government and industry settings.
Two questions we think are key:
What unique aspects of post- PhD academic culture allow bullies to persist?
What can be done to end this?